Rehearsing What God Has Done
A Brief History of Bible Based Ministries
by Shaun Willcock
“…they rehearsed all that God had done with them…” (Acts 14:27)
Bible Based Ministries had its beginning way back in September 1983, although it was not known by this name then and much was to change, especially doctrinally, between 1983 and 1986. Those first years were a time of growth, of casting off the false and laying hold on the true, and in many ways 1986 was the true beginning of basing this work upon a solid and true doctrinal foundation; but as much of what occurred then could not be understood without reference to the years that went before, and as this work did, officially at any rate, begin in 1983 even though there was so much error still to be forsaken, it is best to mark the starting point as September 1983.
In accordance with Acts 14:27 – “they rehearsed all that God had done with them” – what follows is a condensed history of the work, and also contains something of my own testimony – of necessity, as shall be seen. To our God must go all the glory, for we are nothing in ourselves, and without Him we can do nothing (Jn. 15:5); and at the end of the day, when we have done what has been commanded us, we can only say, “We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Lk. 17:10). Yes, and done it very imperfectly, and tainted with sin.
Throughout these years we have experienced many trials, and endured many enemies. But the Lord has guided us each step of the way, year by year, and has blessed us. It has been our great joy, and our undeserved privilege, to serve Him in this way.
It is our desire that the Lord would be glorified by this brief recounting of the His mercies and blessings.
I was born in Salisbury, Rhodesia, in 1963. Today the country that was then Rhodesia is a very different place: after a brutal revolution which lasted many years, it fell to Communist terrorist forces and became Zimbabwe, a Marxist state. My family and I left Rhodesia in 1974, as the terrorist war was escalating, and came to South Africa. And it was here, as a young teenager, that the Lord graciously saved my soul in 1978.
I was converted to Christ while a member of the Methodist institution (certainly in spite of, and not because of, Methodism itself!). Arminian Methodism has never been sound in the faith; but in the 1970s it was moving relentlessly into more and more error. Women were being “ordained” as ministers; ecumenism was a growing evil; liberalism was spreading; worldliness was prevalent in the majority of the members; political radicalism was increasing, with support being given to southern African terrorist organisations; and the influence of the Charismatic movement was beginning to be felt. Of course, many within the denomination understood little or nothing of these developments at that time, and certainly I, a youngster, was ignorant of most of it, although I was deeply disturbed by the worldliness of most of the members.
I received no sound teaching from the Methodist preachers I heard. But the Lord was teaching me through His Word, and in my final year of high school in 1980, I believed the Lord was calling me into the ministry. But how and where? There was much false doctrine that had to be forsaken, and true doctrine that had to be embraced; and this process was to take a number of years. At the time all I knew was Methodism, and the local Methodist leadership was eager to get me into a course of theological training for the Methodist ministry. I preached my first sermon just before my 17th birthday, and soon afterwards I started to preach regularly in the local Methodist church, and was also put in charge of their “youth church” meetings. But by God’s grace, and in His providence, I never entered the Methodist ministry. For, around the same time, through a series of events which were compounded by an utter lack of sound teaching, I was introduced to the Pentecostal movement, and became a Pentecostal. A case of out of the frying pan into the fire!